The Caribbean Premier League is all set to enter its eighth season with defending champions Barbados Tridents taking on Guyana Amazon Warriors in the opening fixture. Jamaica Tallawahs, winners of the inaugural edition and two-time champions begin their campaign against St Lucia Zouks in the third game of the season. Led by Rovman Powell, the Jamaican-based team would look to improve upon their performance from last season where they finished at the bottom of the points table.

Having retained just 5 players (Rovman Powell, Andre Russell, Chadwick Walton, Oshane Thomas and Glenn Philipps), the Jamaica Tallawahs signed Tabraiz Shamsi, who is set to miss the season due to traveling issues. Afghan spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman has been named as the replacement. In addition to that, they drafted in as many as 12 players. However, parting ways with Chris Gayle is something which might turn out to be critical for the side’s fortunes.

Along with Tabraiz Shamsi, two West Indian players Andre McCarthy and Jeavor Royal are also set to miss the season. Both of them were not part of the squad that travelled to Trinidad as they came in close contact with with another player who had tested positive for Covid-19. Jermaine Blackwood and Ramaal Lewis have been named as the replacements.

[Also read – CPL 2020: All you need to know about St Lucia Zouks]

Squad:

Retained: Andre Russell, Rovman Powell, Glenn Philipps (Overseas), Chadwick Walton, Oshane Thomas.

Signed: Tabraiz Shamsi (Overseas) (Unavailable)

Drafted: Sandeep Lamicchane (Overseas), Carlos Brathwaite, Asif Ali (Overseas), Fidel Edwards, Preston McSween, Andre McCarthy (Unavailable), Nicholas Kirton, Jeavor Royal (Unavailable), Nkrumah Bonner, Veerasammy Permaul, Ryan Persaud (ICC Americas pick).

Replacements: Jermaine Blackwood, Ramaal Lewis, Mujeeb Ur Rahman (Overseas)

Squad Analysis: Strength and Weakness:

The top order includes Philipps, Walton and Kirton/ Blackwood, with Walton who previously batted at 3 set to open in the absence of Gayle. Kirton, Bonner and Blackwood do not have great T20 credentials but might be used as the anchor for the side.

A middle order filled with players known for their clean striking and brute force follows. Number 4-7 constitutes skipper Rovman Powell, Andre Russell, Asif Ali and Carlos Brathwaite, all of whom can tonk the ball right from the word go. A fearsome middle order like this makes it extremely difficult for teams to defend a total against them.

Rovman Powell
Skipper Rovman Powell will look to take his side to the play-offs after a dismal season in 2019

While the batting lineup holds a formidable look, the Tallawahs are a team who will be vulnerable against wrist spin. Also the backups are not very reliable with either too much inexperience or not great T20 record. The number 3 spot is something they need to adjust by slotting in Nkrumah Bonner or Jermaine Blackwood or Nicholas Kirton, none of whom have been great T20 players so far.

The spin department is set to be led by Lamicchane, Mujeeb, Lewis and Permaul, with Bonner assisting with part-time wrist-spin. They can go in with one among Mujeeb and Lewis, based on their requirement; Lewis will provide good batting depth while in case of Mujeeb they get a reliable 4-overs bowler who bowls mystery spin. While the spin department looks competent enough, the lack of quality backups might prove to be a cause of concern.

The Jamaicans boast of an enviable look when it comes to pace bowling department. Oshane Thomas, Fidel Edwards, Andre Russell and Carlos Brathwaite more than make up for the lack of batting depth. They are a team who can efficiently use the short ball tactics against any side. Whether Jamaica Tallawahs better their performance and go on to make it big this season depends largely on their fast bowlers and finishers.

Jamaica Tallawahs

Probable Playing XI:

Glenn Philips (wk), Chadwick Walton, Nicholas Kirton, Rovman Powell, Andre Russell, Asif Ali, Carlos Brathwaite, Ramaal Lewis/ Mujeeb UR Rahman, Fidel Edwards, Sandeep Lamicchane, Oshane Thomas

Tournament Prediction:

A top 4 finish looks likely unless they do something terribly wrong. The first choice playing XI is strong enough to beat any side on their day and unless their are injury concerns, the Tallawahs should be in a good position.